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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Optimal Technology Selection and Operation of Microgrids in Commercial Buildings


The deployment of small (<1-2 MW) clusters of generators, heat and electrical storage, efficiency investments, and combined heat and power (CHP) applications (particularly involving heat activated cooling) in commercial buildings promises significant benefits but poses many technical and financial challenges, both in system choice and its operation; if successful, such systems may be precursors to widespread microgrid deployment. The presented optimization approach to choosing such systems and their operating schedules uses Berkeley Lab's Distributed Energy Resources Customer Adoption Model [DER-CAM], extended to incorporate electrical storage options. DER-CAM chooses annual energy bill minimizing systems in a fully technology-neutral manner. An illustrative example for a San Francisco hotel is reported. The chosen system includes two engines and an absorption chiller, providing an estimated 11 percent cost savings and 10 percent carbon emission reductions, under idealized circumstances.

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